APA Style Citations


The emphasis on using the APA style guide to cite your sources serves two purposes: first, you avoid plagiarism by crediting the original author for thoughts and ideas that you incorporate into your paper, and second, you allow your readers to join the academic conversation by going to the original source if they desire to pursue the topic.


There is a specific formula for creating citations; however, the format changes slightly due to the type of source. In the section that follows, we will examine the data that should be included in citations, along with the APA style for punctuation, capitalization, and italicizing the entry. 


Let’s deconstruct the following entry, which is a journal article:



Paas, F., Tuovinen, J. E., Tabbers, H., & Van Gerven, P. W. M. (2010).  Cognitive load measurement as a means to advance cognitive load theory.  Educational Psychologist, 38(1), 63-71.  doi: 10.1207/S15326985EP3801.8



·       List the authors by last name, followed by a comma and initials for their first (and middle) names. 

·       When there are two or more initials, include a space between initials.  Look at Van Gerven – there are spaces between the P, W, and M.

·       Separate authors by commas.

·       Use the ampersand sign (&) prior to the last author’s name.


Publication Date

·       Use only the year, do not include the month or specific day. 

·       Use parentheses to offset the year.

·       Insert a period after the parentheses.


Title of article

·       Capitalize the first word in the title.

·       The remaining words in the title should be lower case.

·       If there is a colon in the title (“:”) capitalize the first word following the colon.

·       End the title with a period.


Title of journal

·       Capitalize the major words in the title and italicize the entire title.

·       The title of the journal includes the volume number (the volume number is “38”) and this should be italicized.

·       The title of the journal does not include the issue number, but if there is an issue number, you should include it (the issue number is “1”); this issue number is enclosed in parentheses, and there is NO space between the volume number and the issue number.


Page numbers

·       List only the page numbers (i.e. do not include “p.” or any other letters or words)

·       Insert a hyphen (-) between the first and last page numbers.  There are NO spaces.

·       Insert a period at the end of the page numbers.


Digital Object Identifier

·       The letters “doi” should be lower case.

·       Include a colon after the letters “doi

·       It is best to copy and paste the numbers/letters in the doi, to avoid any mistakes.


What is a doi?


Some online content providers now provide an alphanumeric code, known as a DOI (an acronym standing for Digital Object Identifier). This is a stable link to the source. The DOI will not change over time, ensuring that the text will always be available.




Formatting the References Page


The listing of all your sources (references) is a separate page in an APA style research paper.  There are some basic rules for formatting the page and the entries. First, you should notice these overarching rules:



·       Capitalize the word References.

·       Do not use quotation marks

·       Center the heading on the first line of the page. 


Line Spacing

·       Double space between the heading and the first entry.

·       Within each individual entry, use single spacing.  However, between entries, use double spacing.


Alphabetical Order

·       All entries in your References page should be alphabetized by the authors’ names. 

·       If you have several sources written by the same author, list them in chronological order.  To distinguish them, add a letter to the year of publication (i.e. 2009a, 2009b). You will need to include that letter in your in-text citation so that readers are pointed to the correct source.


Hanging Indent

·       The first line of the entry is flush left, but after typing in the whole entry, go back and indent the remaining lines (this is called “hanging indent”).

·       Indentation should be half an inch.


The following pages will display some tips for formatting entries for various types of sources.  Please pay special attention to capitalization of words, italicizing the titles of publications (books or journals, but not titles of articles), and punctuation.








U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.  VA, Affordable Care Act, and You.  Retrieved from https://www.va.gov/health/aca/

·       When you do not know the author, list the agency that sponsors the website.

·       List the title of the article or information

·       Include the URL of the page from which you lifted the source.

·       Note: if you use texts from several pages within the website, you should have a separate entry (with the distinct URL) for each text.



Book (no editor)


Harris, J. (2006). Rewriting: How to do things with texts. Logan, UT: Utah State University Press.


·       The title of the book is italicized.

·       Capitalize only the first word in the title, and the first word that occurs after the colon

·       Following the title, include the city and state of the publisher.

·       Separate the state from the name of the publisher with a colon

·       Insert a period after the name of the publisher




Book (with an editor or editors)


Ericsson, K. A., Charness, N., Feltovich, P. J., & Hoffman, R. R. (Eds.) (2006).  The Cambridge handbook of expertise and expert performance.  New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

·       After listing the names of the editors, insert the notation (Eds.)

·       If there is only one editor, the notation should be (Ed.)



Chapter or Section within a Book


Braddock, R., Lloyd-Jones, R., & Schoer, L.  (2009). Research in written composition. In S. Miller (Ed.), The Norton book of composition studies. (pp. 193-215). New York, NY: Norton.


·       Capitalize only the first word in the title of the chapter, and if there is a colon, the first word that follows the colon

·       Capitalize only the first word in the title of the book, and if there is a colon, the first word that follows the colon

·       Italicize the title of the book

·       You need to include the editor of the book by starting with the word “In” and initializing the first name.

·       Identify the editor by using the abbreviation (Ed.) in parentheses.  If there are two or more editors, use (Eds.)

·       Insert a comma between the parenthesis of the editor and the title of the book.

·       Include the page numbers of the chapter – you will include the lowercase letters “pp” with a period before the page numbers

·       Place parentheses around the page numbers

·       List the city and state of the publisher, inserting a comma between city and state.

·       Following the state, insert a colon and list the name of publisher




Government Report


Kena, G., Hussar, W., McFarland, J., de Brey, C., Musu-Gillette, L., … Dunlop-Velez, E. (2016) The condition of education 2016. The National Center for Education Statistics.  Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2016144

·       When there are more than six authors, use the elipses (“…”) to indicate that several authors have been omitted from the entry.

·       Include the title of the text.

·       Indicate the URL for the website from which you lifted the information.



By citing your sources, you give the proper credit to those who informed your work (avoid plagiarism), and you also provide readers the opportunity to examine a complete source that was cited (join the academic conversation). 


For help with formatting the citations of other types of sources, visit the Purdue OWL website:  https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/05/